The limitations of the theory and practice of mobilization in trade union organizing

Holgate, J., Simms, M. and Tapia, M. (2018) The limitations of the theory and practice of mobilization in trade union organizing. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 39(4), pp. 599-616. (doi: 10.1177/0143831X18777608)

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Since the publication of Rethinking Industrial Relations in 1998, John Kelly’s mobilization theory has been used by many scholars attempting to understand union organizing – often using specific campaigns to unpack and analyse various elements of the theory that help to explain the success or failure of collective mobilization. In this article the authors review this literature and highlight the major areas of interest from the book – injustice, framing and leadership – and the contribution to industrial relations research. They find that the terms mobilizing and organizing are used interchangeably, which, they argue, is problematic and has led to confusion about what is actually happening in unions. Unpacking the difference between the two terms can help to explain limitations in the way mobilization theory has been used by scholars, and, at the same time, deepen our understanding of why unions have not been particularly successful in reversing their decline despite the ‘turn to organizing’ over the last few decades.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Simms, Professor Melanie
Authors: Holgate, J., Simms, M., and Tapia, M.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:Economic and Industrial Democracy
ISSN (Online):1461-7099
Published Online:02 August 2018

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